The Intellectual Property Regulation Board

What is an attorney?

“Lawyer” is a general term referring to an individual who is professionally qualified to practice as a lawyer, but, in fact, within the legal profession there are a number of different types of lawyers.

Most people are familiar with the terms “solicitor” and “barrister” for lawyers.

“Attorney” is the term which is used in the United Kingdom for those individuals who are specifically qualified to advise on intellectual property law and subject to external regulation.

The protected titles “Patent Attorney” and “Trade Mark Attorney” distinguish these lawyers from “patent consultants or patent advisors” and “trade mark consultants” etc., who are unlikely to have any form of professional qualification.

Intellectual property law deals with the ownership and protection of ideas; key areas are patents (such as the “formula” for a new medicine or the blueprint for a new industrial process), trade marks (such as the Nike name or the McDonalds Golden Arch logo) and designs (such as the distinctive shape of a container).

The field of intellectual property law has many international aspects and clients can typically range from individual inventors to major multi-national corporations. Practitioners may be sole traders, employed in-house by industrial concerns or join an independent partnership.